Big Game Stats for 2005

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Even with bighorn sheep, elk and antelope hunter success dipping slightly in 2005, hunter success in Wyoming still surpasses most other Rocky Mountain states and continues to be a testament of very good hunting, reports the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Moose reported a marked increase in hunter success, and total deer hunter success was nearly identical to last year.

Elk hunter success was down from 41 percent in 2004 to 39 percent last season, and antelope success declined from 96 to 93 percent, while moose hunter success jumped from 84 to 88 percent and deer hunter success stayed officially at 65 percent, based on statistics compiled from hunter surveys.

Last season, 19,708 elk were brought home by Wyoming hunters, 1,544 less than the number of elk harvested in 2004.

"The Game and Fish has maintained liberal elk seasons in many portions of the state since the mid-1990s to reduce elk numbers that have been over established population objectives," said John Emmerich, assistant Wildlife Division chief. "Reduced harvest in 2005 reflects reductions in available elk licenses in herds that are now near objective or where calf survival has declined significantly in recent years."

Last year, 23 percent of Colorado hunters, 40 percent of Nebraska hunters and 21 percent of Utah hunters harvested an elk. 2004 statistics were the latest available in Idaho at 21 percent and 2003 in Montana at 25 percent.

Although overall Wyoming deer success was nearly static, whitetail hunters saw their success rise 3 percent to 52 percent. Mule deer slipped 1 percent to 57 percent. Combined, 72,750 deer hunters brought home 47,600 animals. Hunters averaged 8 days for each animal harvested.

Wyoming’s overall 65 percent deer hunting success compares to 45 percent in Colorado, 58 percent in Nebraska and 23 percent in Utah. In 2004, Idaho reported 31 percent and in 2003 Montana reported 68 percent. Wyoming’s overall deer hunting success surpasses either whitetail or mule deer success, because some hunters harvest both with a combination of regular and doe/fawn licenses.

The Cowboy State antelope success of 93 percent, although down from 2004, is still high. Nearly 42,330 hunters

harvested 39,500 antelope last year.

Of the neighboring states with antelope stats available for 2005, Colorado reported 67 percent success, Nebraska 62 percent and Utah 89 percent. Forty-six percent of Idaho hunters were successful in 2004 and 72 percent of Montana hunters in 2003. When comparing other states to Wyoming, it should be qualified that multiple licenses are available to Wyoming hunters in most areas and hence more chance for higher success.

The overall 2005 moose harvest success of 88 percent is consistent with the high harvest success of past years.

In 2005, Colorado reported 85 percent and Utah 94 percent success. Montana registered 84 percent in 2003.

Wyoming bighorn sheep hunters experienced a 15 percent decline in harvest success to 74 percent, due in large part to a change in assumptions used to estimate harvest. "Despite this accounting adjustment, bighorn sheep hunting in Wyoming remains outstanding," Emmerich said.

Montana, which has some general license bighorn sheep areas, tallied 60 percent in 2003. Colorado hunters tallied 54 percent in 2005 and 100 percent of Utah hunters were successful.

Emmerich predicts 2006 hunter success to be similar to 2005 for all species and probably better for deer in the north-central and south-central portions of the state. "Good fawn production and survival the past two years, and probably again in 2006 if we receive adequate moisture this summer, points to improved harvest success for deer and pronghorn in the state this fall," he said.

Wyoming harvest statistics are compiled from surveys mailed to hunters. The 2005 Big Game Harvest Report will be available in August from the Game and Fish for $18.

Christine Leonard, the Game and Fish’s harvest survey coordinator, says the 2005 harvest survey is a statistically accurate and timely report thanks to assistance of hunters across the continent. "The percent of hunters responding by Internet is increasing every year and was up to 30 percent for this survey," she said. "That trend is great, because it’s saving money."

She said the surveys are often accompanied by a wide-range of hunting comments. "This year topics mentioned most were access and license cost," Leonard said.

Hunters that would like to know the success rate in a hunt area before applying for elk, deer and antelope, can call the Game and Fish at (800) 842-1934. All resident applications must arrive at the Cheyenne office by 5 p.m. May 31.